Word of the Week: Einwanderungsbewegung

Oct 5, 2012

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.


Statue of Liberty in New York Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/chromorange)

German-American Day, observed annually on October 6 since 1987, celebrates German-American heritage in the United States, the foundation of which was laid by a massive "Einwanderungsbewegung" (immigration movement) in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As with so many German compound nouns, composed of two (or more!) separate words, this expression is based on "Einwanderung" (immigration) and "Bewegung" (movement).

Its counterpart would be "Auswanderungsbewegung," or emigration movement. Similarly the verbs "einwandern" (immigrate) and "auswandern" (emigrate) are used to connote the same thing.

According to "Deutsche Einwanderungsbewegung in die englischen Kolonien Nordamerikas und Anwerbungstechniken im 18. Jahrhungern" (The German immigration movemement in the English colonies of North America and recruiting methods in the 18th Century), by Andreas Wiedermann, the "riesiger Auswandererstrom" (giant emigrants' stream) of Europeans to the United States in the 19th century has a lesser known pre-history in the 18th century. In this vein, between 1709 and 1789 more than 65,000 people left German-speaking parts of Europe to make their way to the English-speaking colonies of North America. Pennsylvania had only about 12,000 residents in 1750, making this mass exodus comparable to that of 19th-century immigration.

The immigration of Germans to the United States continued apace in the 19th century and into the 20th century. Today some 50 million Americans claim German ancestry.

Synonyms for the noun "Einwanderung" include "Zuwanderung" and "Zuzug." Synonyms for the verb include "zuwandern" and "immigrieren" (to immigrate). "Asyl," by contrast, clearly refers to "asylum," as when political refugees seek asylum in another country.

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